UK IOC Head addresses scientists and policy makers in Washington D.C

Oceans 15 Conference took place in Washington DC in October 2015

The Head of the UK-IOC Delegation and IOC Vice-Chair, Steve Hall, was invited to Washington last month, to address scientists, industry and NGOs at the Oceans 15 conference, and US Congressmen and Senators on Capitol Hill, on the future of ocean governance.

Emphasising that there is only one global ocean, Mr. Hall explored the critical role of the IOC – UNESCO’s marine science coordinating body – in facilitating global ocean science by providing the frameworks, networks, diplomatic clearances and comparable data needed for oceanographers to do their science.

“We only have one planet and one ocean” said Mr. Hall who is based at the Natural Environment Research Council’s National Oceanography Centre in Southampton. “While different countries may experience the effects of the ocean in different ways as the planet warms – through storm surges or hurricanes – the IOC ensures that countries have the data, networks and training required for a coordinated response”.

The new Global Goals, launched in New York on 2 August, include a dedicated oceans goal; SDG Goal 14—Conserve and Sustainably Use Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources for Sustainable Development. This goal recognises the central role that oceans play in the social, economic and environmental pillars of sustainable development.

Indeed, covering 70% of the earth’s surface, oceans are essential for planetary survival but, in the context of environmental change, are increasingly vulnerable to ocean acidification, sea level rise and fluctuations in ocean circulation and salinity. These changes are expected to be felt not only along coastlines, but inland as well due to the widespread influence of ocean currents on weather systems.

UNESCO’s IOC played a key role in supporting the development of the new oceans global goal through the Sustainable Development Goal’s technical support team. The IOC will continue to work closely with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics to consolidate globally relevant oceans indicators with IOC’s Global Ocean Observing System – which provides information and data exchange on the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of the ocean and the Ocean Biographic Information System, a global marine biodiversity knowledge base that provides an integral view on the past and current diversity, abundance and distribution of marine life in the ocean.

Mr. Hall was elected to the position of Vice Chair of IOC at the IOC Assembly in June of this year when he and the UKNC launched a policy brief on the future of IOC. This report considers where, in an increasingly crowded space, IOC can have the greatest impact and add the greatest value in the global ocean agenda and retain its position as the global focal point in ocean science matters.